By Ken McGorry
Issue: December 1, 2004


This issue of Post deals with perhaps the biggest question in our industry: "what's next?" But for the most part, the professionals we write about in Post are not exactly industry analysts. Rather, they're street-smart industry veterans who make business judgments based on their experience and, often, on their abiding passion for this kind of work - audio post, editing, visual effects, animation and much more.

When speaking with Bob Pomann for this month's audio feature, he used a curious bellwether: as the diamond trade (on the first floor of his Manhattan building) goes, so goes the economy. When he sees long faces on the diamond traders prior to the holiday giving season - and he did - we're in for a long winter. Still, his Pomann Sound is doing gangbusters, particularly on animated TV shows, and he points to diversification as the key to ongoing success.

Jesse Meli of LA Studios stresses a future bright with surround sound work on the multitudes of DVD releases and new HD programming, as well as on feature film and commercials.

Phil Price of Price Digital was the animation producer on the new "Architecture and Design of Man and Woman," which is headed for the Discovery Channel in March. (It's got a lot of 3D.) He says that August and September were busy for everyone he knows, yet 2004 seemed to end with a whimper.

One interesting animation shop, Bent Image Lab in Portland, OR, which specializes in stop-motion animation for commercials and irreverent animated segments on shows like Conan O?Brien and SNL, is too new to have a company history that lends itself to industry forecasting. But Bent, known for the hilarious, holiday-themed Rubber Band Man spots for Office Max, can use its healthy return business as a yardstick. Executive producer Ray DiCarlo has other measuring devices, too. He?s seen ad agencies that had been laying off talent get busy enough again to hire new producers and creatives. DiCarlo also saw "the most board-flow ever" last August, a month normally slow for spot work in his niche.

DiCarlo agrees with Jesse Meli that uncontrollable events (war, dot-com busts, etc.) will adversely affect client spending. These days it's all connected ? in DiCarlo's case, even a rise in the price of butterfat can cause a client to restrict ad spending.

So maybe we should all go out and buy some diamonds!